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Charisms, also known as spiritual gifts, play a significant role in the life of a believer. They are abilities given by the Holy Spirit to individuals to build up the Church and serve others. It is vital for parish communities to integrate charism discernment to unleash the full potential of their members and create a vibrant, dynamic parish life.


Understanding the Parish Models


When considering the integration of charism discernment within a parish, it is essential to understand the different parish models available. Each parish has its unique characteristics, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The primary goal is to create lightweight, adaptable resources that seamlessly fit into the existing structure of the parish.


Small Group Charism Discernment


One effective model is small group charism discernment. This model involves walking with a group of individuals, typically between 8 to 16 people, over a period of 2 to 3 months as they go through a process of charism discernment. This approach allows for the cultivation of community accountability and the recognition of the Holy Spirit’s work within each individual, fostering a culture of support and encouragement.


Responsive 1 on 1 Charism Discernment


Another valuable model is responsive 1 on 1 charism discernment. This high-touch approach involves individuals seeking out and going through the discernment process with trained volunteers. While more time-intensive, it allows for a deep and personalized exploration of one’s spiritual gifts, empowering individuals for intentional service within the parish.


Stewardship Renewal Model


The stewardship renewal model combines traditional parish commitments with charism discernment. By pairing financial and vocation-related commitments with charism discernment, this model enables parishioners to understand and align their gifts with various ministries, leading to more intentional and fruitful service within the parish.


Parish Integration Discernment


Finally, the parish integration discernment model involves inviting new parishioners to engage in intentional discernment upon joining the parish. This proactive approach facilitates the seamless integration of individuals into areas where their charisms can be utilized effectively, fostering a sense of belonging and purpose from the outset.


Incorporating charism discernment into the life of a parish is not about introducing a new program but aligning with the movement of the Holy Spirit already present within the community. Each parish model offers unique opportunities for individuals to explore, understand, and employ their spiritual gifts, fostering a vibrant and active parish life where every member is empowered to contribute to the building of the Body of Christ. By adopting an intentional and inclusive approach to charism discernment, parishes can witness the transformational impact of fully utilizing the diverse gifts present within their community.

Jill Simons:
Hello, and welcome to Charisms for Catholics. My name is Jill Simons, and I’m the executive director at Many Parts Ministries, where we equip the body of Christ by helping people learn about and discern their charisms, which is really another word for spiritual gifts. When you discern your charisms, you’re able to see how the Holy Spirit is already active in your life and where he is inviting you to further build the church. Let’s dive in. Hello, and welcome to today’s episode. I’m so excited to be with you because today we’re gonna be talking about our different models for parishes to use charism discernment within the parish. So we take a very different approach to parish integration and basically getting charisms into parish life than things that have existed before. And that’s because I think that this is really our strength, is to create really lightweight, adaptable resources that allow people and parishes to just engage sort of with whatever hand they’ve been dealt.

Jill Simons:
You know, parishes around the world are wildly different from each other. Wildly different in terms of their makeup and the ages represented and how large the community is and how affluent the community is. And there’s just all these different factors that go into making every parish community really unique. Even though the mass and the faith lived and celebrated there, is the same. And so that’s really our heart for creating resources is to look at how can we make things that are really lightweight and are just kind of a skin that can go over what already exists, what’s already working well in each unique parish because they’re so different. And so it makes sense to me and to us as a team to focus on creating things that can be used in different ways ways, in different places. And so to that end, we don’t have a single, like, here is, you know, exactly how you implement or use charisms or charism discernment within a parish. We have a huge, like, literally ridiculously huge suite of resources that are available for parishes in one of 2 different packages.

Jill Simons:
So we have like a pilot program, which is a little less than half, maybe like a third of the resources we have available for parishes that are just wanna test it out. Maybe just their staff, just their, you know, ministry leaders or something like that and just see see what it’s about. So, we’ve got that option or we’ve got our full program which is designed to implement Parts wide and I don’t know of any parish that is gonna use everything that we make available in that package. But that’s the point. It’s got so many different options that you can choose what you wanna use and how you wanna use it. And if your parish does sign up for that full package, then we do a one on one with you to just hear about your parish and hear what is working and what kind of hand you’ve been dealt in your parish and to help you strategize 1 on 1 unique to your parish about how you should use the resources included. So you’re not just, like, set off with this enormous library of things that you have no nothing no idea what to do with. And so one of the really cool things that we offer is a variety of different models for how charisms can live in parish life in a vital way, in a, really dynamic way that’s not hinging on a one time event or somebody coming to this one thing, but actually changing the culture of parishes and giving individuals and parishes themselves what they need to be able to do that.

Jill Simons:
So, today, what I’d love to share with you about is just kind of the basic outline of the different models that we have set up for and have resources to support if your parish is interested in our programs. And even if you’re not, this is something that you can think about. Would would one of these work in your parish? Because you can use these things with our assessment without the formal parish program if you want. It’ll it’ll be challenging. It’ll be harder than using our programs outright, but we are about the most people knowing about and using this stuff and not about having the most people enroll in our programs. So that is exactly why we’re doing an episode about this, something that most people put behind a paywall. You know, you have to enroll to be able to find this out. No.

Jill Simons:
We want parishes to just know what their options are, to know if this might be a fit for them or if there’s something that they wanna try on their own, then we want them to feel free to do that. So, basically, there’s 4 core models that we train our volunteers around and also share with parishes in our parish program. So, every parish that signs up for a parish program gets access to either 1 or 2 seats to volunteer training and a lot of parishes will add additional seats to that and train as large kind of course staff as they want to to be on the ground in the Parts. And that’s really important because we don’t want we want to decrease your dependence on us and on our staff. We wanna provide you with all of the technical resources that you need, but we don’t want you to be stuck waiting for time on, you know, with someone on our small staff on a regular basis. We want you to have what you need in your community to be able to be self supporting, to be able to do this for 20 or 30 or 50 years and not just, you you know, for the 2 months after somebody came and did a presentation. So that’s why we teach these models. So, really, there’s 2 core models that kind of started out and then, we do maintenance with 2 other models.

Jill Simons:
So, to begin with, we what works for a lot of parish parishes is starting with small group charism discernment. So this is something our volunteer, accompaniment trainees are trained to do, which is to walk usually between 2 3 months with a max of 16 people per group. So the sweet spot is kinda 8 to 16 ish people that already know each other. This can be pulled from, you know, existing Bible studies or existing small groups or supper clubs or whatever your parish has. Does not have to be new groups that have never been together. It’s actually great if it’s people that know each other. It’s fantastic if it’s people that have been in some kind of small group for a while. But then our volunteer trainees are trained to be able to come in for 2 to 3 months and go through a charism and discernment process with the group.

Jill Simons:
This allows people to actually go through the initial feedback stage, go through the testing phase, and ultimately culminate in the commitment phase with people that are keeping them accountable to what it is that they’re gifted to do. So this is something that we’ve used extensively in the past. I began in a lot of ways after I had done 1 on 1 discernment for many years. I started doing this model with Bible studies long before many parts existed. Just doing this independently walking with small groups in Bible through discernment. And I was just there kind of as a facilitator of the conversation and to kind of be those bumpers on what a charism was specifically. It was really the people in the group working together, ministering to each other, helping each other educated people in the world leading them. You just need someone who has a really good understanding of what each charism is and a heart for people to discern their charisms, and that’s literally it.

Jill Simons:
Because when those people have existing relationships, then they are able to so clearly see and call out the work of the Holy Spirit in each other again when there’s good definitions in the room and those bumpers of, like, no, that’s not exactly what that charism is. And that allows people to keep each other accountable in the long run. This is such a successful model because then you have people that are best friends in real life that went through charism discernment together, who maybe neither of them are trained to really know anything about charism discernment except what happened in their individual discernment. But then they start calling each other out on, hey. Yeah. You are doing amazing at this because this is your discernment charism. We’ve seen this. We’ve talked about this.

Jill Simons:
Or you need to do this because this your hospitality charism. Like, you have to say yes to this. And there’s this baked into the community accountability that arises from that That is just very cool, very on point. This is what actually shifts culture within parishes. This is almost always my number one recommendation for a parish is what existing small groups do you have that you can just make volunteers available to and include this in over the course of the next year, include this in their regular meeting times. How can you leverage what you already have and make this happen? And if you’re a parish that doesn’t have Bible studies in small groups, let’s make some small groups of people that know each other. So have people sign up with their friends, unlike every other thing where you’re wanting people to meet new people. Nope.

Jill Simons:
This is not the time to meet new people. This is the time to be with people that you already know and that you actually live your life with and put together small groups to go through small group charism discernment. Another great option is responsive 1 on 1 charism discernment. So this is where you have, a volunteer trainee that will go through discernment 1 on 1 with individuals. So, obviously, this is a lot more high touch. It’s more time for your volunteers to be to do this 1 on 1. And, typically, we recommend that people seek this out. So this is something where you seek it out and say, hey.

Jill Simons:
I would like to go through 1 on 1 charism discernment. Usually Parts 1 to 2 Simons. Allows people to go through the initial follow-up, a little bit of testing, and a commitment phase. And this is similar to what’s used in a lot of, like, healing ministries where if you have maybe unbound at your parish or you use JP 2 Healing Center resources where people that need it seek it out, and it’s something that you have trained people available to do. Now the caveat with this one is that this is obviously just a slower, longer road to changing a parish culture. This is a lot more, a lot of our parishes that do the pilot program will start with this and just kind of learn and intentionally and test and have kind of an implementation phase over the course of 6 to 8 months where they’re having people do the 1 on 1 assessment, ultimately, because they’re wanting to reach sort of a critical mass of the movers and shakers within a parish before moving on to another model. And that’s great. You don’t have to stick with any one of these for all time.

Jill Simons:
You’re not locked in. You can try things and see what works and move on to the next thing. Then one of our most or or definitely our most wide scale model that is what parishes do that want to really focus on changing the parish wide culture and changing it quickly is doing a stewardship renewal model where instead of having your historical time, talent, treasure, Sunday, where people will commit to certain things. They will pair that with charism discernment. So this discernment will happen then as a parish usually in less high touch situations. So a lot of times, parishes will have, you know, in the bulletin for 2 to 3 Sundays. Here’s the QR code to take your assessment. If you want more information, there’s sort of, you know, office hours time or small group time with the people that are trained volunteers in the parish where you can get some more context and information if you want it.

Jill Simons:
That one of the strengths of using the many parts assessment and other stuff for this is that people can be really activated to do a lot of the legwork themselves because of the number of resources that we have available just to everyone and also the specificity that their report will give them. You know, they it links to all the long form episodes on their highest ranking charisms and things like that. So you really can have people self educate in a lot of ways, but almost always, there’s a gap that needs to be closed from that. It’s usually helpful to have a human being in front of you that you can have a conversation about this with, and that’s why we believe that training the volunteers is so, so important. So doing the stewardship renewal model, there would be this idea of discerning your charisms, looking at your finances, looking at your vocation, and then looking at what is what is our whole life supposed to look like as a family. A lot of people will use our date night for couples in the course of this as Jill, put on, like, an a date night event for couples where they’ll be, you know, the discussion questions on a board or a presenting or something like that so that they can talk through those as a couple or maybe with some peers in a small group. And then having, again, a time of commitment, which is really great. That’s how stewardship renewal almost always works is where you say, this is what I’m interested in.

Jill Simons:
This is what my gifts are. And so in this model, then there is resources that we make available to parishes to be able to map their existing ministries to the charisms that go with them. Then you’re able to provide the stewardship materials and say, here’s x y z Ministries. You know, QPR charisms are really great for that. Select the ministries that you think will you best use the charisms that you’ve been given. And this empowers people to self select into a lot more intentional places and also gives people who are maybe less involved an opportunity to see where they would have the greatest success because we know just from life, once you’ve had success somewhere, then you’re like, okay. Yeah. Cool.

Jill Simons:
I could do this again. But when you’re scared and maybe have never had success somewhere, it’s very easy to just not do things. So for instance, I am a horrible runner and I had never run a 5 k until I was an adult. And my husband invited me to do it, and I did not want to, and I kinda hated it. But then I did okay in my first race, and there was like, okay. Yeah. No. I could do this again.

Jill Simons:
So then I was able to transition from being a, like, avowed, I hate running kind of person into someone who’s like, oh, yeah. I’m open to doing that again because I’ve already had success. And so that’s that’s one of the the powerful ways that you can shift the investment of people in your parish. If you’re like a lot of parishes, there’s probably a huge amount of, jobs done by a very small amount of people. And we can shift that by helping the rest of the people see where they would be effective and where they would have assessment that can then open the door for them to be more involved in other places. And then the other awesome thing about using the stewardship renewal model is that you usually get the largest cross section of parishioners taking the Charism assessment when you do it that way and we are able to help you integrate the data that you receive from that into your communication system so that you can reach out and say, hey. Everybody who ranked highly for hospitality, you know, we’re looking for more greeters and that only goes to people who ranked highly for hospitality. So you can just be really intentional with your communication and it allows you to communicate a lot more.

Jill Simons:
So instead of just, oh, I don’t wanna email people more than, you know, maybe once a week, twice a week, 3 times a week, whatever your frequency is. Now you can reach out more frequently because people aren’t getting every single email. People are only getting the emails that are most likely or or I should say primarily. There’s probably gonna be whole parish blast Jill, but primarily getting the communication about what it is that really fits their gifting. And that is something that we’re able to do really simply and really easily through the power of the data that we’re able to receive. So this is one of those places where it’s just a great tool that we want to, you know, give you what you need to use if that is something that aligns with your parish goals and then, finally, this is something that, you know, those are kind of the 3 that parishes will typically choose from to start with or choose 1 to flow into another, to flow into a third, or whatever makes sense for a Parts. But then we also love helping parishes build a follow-up model, which is we call it Parts integration discernment, which is where anybody new coming into your Parts, after you’ve set up one of these initial models, you invite them into a time of intentional discernment when they join your parish. So I don’t know about you, but I’ve joined a lot of parishes in my life because I’ve lived a lot of different places.

Jill Simons:
And the intentionality with which the invitation and the onboarding of that process happens really shifts what the experience is like. So this is a way to be super intentional and super helpful to the people coming into your parish without having to, like, hire a new full time person to do this. You can set it up where when somebody registers as a new parishioner, they can automatically get an email that invites them to take their Charism assessment. You can get those results and you can then intentionally invite them to do things based on their gifts without having to take, you know, a whole a cost prohibitive or a effort prohibitive amount of time getting to know Simons, not because we don’t want to get to know people, not because we want to devalue those human relationships, but because sometimes we just need more resources, more time than we have available. And so this is one of those ways that you can actually come to get a sense of a person more quickly so that you can then invite them into the place where they’re going to be just fit really well, so that then those human relationships that are so important can develop. So all of these models are not meant to dehumanize the process or make it so detached or so data driven that we’re not losing that that we’re not focusing on the fact that it’s the Holy Spirit that’s moving and it’s a human being in front of us. The idea of having the scalability of these models is to make them accessible and to make them something that is not is not a cost prohibitive thing for parishes to engage in. Because then we give the opportunity to parishes of every size, every makeup, every intentionality, the opportunity to be able to use what the Holy Spirit is doing and cooperate with it.

Jill Simons:
Really intentionally without new staff, new programs, to having an, you know, a one time event, all of those things. Now that said, there’s a lot more in our parish a lot more resources. We are happy to put on one time events. I don’t wanna knock any of that. But I did want to just share with you ways that it works great to use charisms in parishes. And our desire, our heart, is that this will be in every parish in the world, not because we think what we’ve created is so great or that there’s something special about us, but because we believe that it is too important to not name and value what the Holy Spirit is doing. And so we just want it to be the norm in every parish across the world for Catholic adults to have discerned their charisms. I my dream is that it’s gonna be weird if you haven’t.

Jill Simons:
My dream is that you come into a Parts, and they’re like, oh, what’s your what are your charisms? And you’re like, They’re like, oh my gosh. Let’s get you in here. Let’s get this going because this is ridiculous that you’re in your twenties, in your thirties, in your forties, in your fifties, and you don’t know what this is. It becomes such a concrete foundational part of the Christian life that we can’t even imagine engaging in our Christian life, in our parish life without it. So that’s my hope. That’s my dream. If you are interested in bringing our program to your parish, we’d love to talk with you. We have just, like I said, again, I I get so wrapped up in this.

Jill Simons:
We have such a heart for this to be everywhere because we have such a heart for the Holy Spirit to be everywhere because he already is everywhere. And what a tragedy that we’re not naming him everywhere. We are not giving him every ounce of praise and glory for all the things that he is doing. So if we can help you do that in your parish, that is what we’re here for. We have an incredible staff that would love to talk with you about what this could look like in your parish and get you rolling on valuing and investing in what the Holy Spirit is doing in your community. I’ll be back next week with another episode. I love you all and God bless you. Thanks so much for joining us on today’s episode of Charisms for Catholics.

Jill Simons:
If you would like to learn more about your charisms or begin your own discernment journey, head to our website at Many, where you can download our free PDF guide to all 24 charisms and also begin your own journey by taking our charism assessment.